Major League Baseball has witnessed an influx of young, personable, and exciting talent over the last few years. Young stars like Cody Bellinger, Ronald Acuna, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Fernando Tatis Jr., come to mind.
The Yankees have a young impact bat in their back pocket as well with Clint Frazier. Arriving from the Cleveland Indians in the Andrew Miller trade, evaluators forecasted a bright future for Frazier and the Bombers, pegging him as a productive future outfielder.
In 2017 the team saw a glimpse of that potential, but unfortunately his season ended before it started in 2018 due to concussion issues. After major injuries to key lineup pieces in 2019, however, Frazier took his opportunity by storm and performed at a high level. He hit .283/.330/.513 with a .352 wOBA.
His defensive liability has been a topic of discussion, but what Yankees prospect didn’t have a weakness on which they needed to work? Aaron Judge struck out a lot, Luis Severino had problems with tipping pitches, and Gary Sanchez and Miguel Andujar both had defensive concerns of their own.
No one is perfect, and with more playing time, Frazier should develop into a better outfielder. Remember Didi Gregorius’ transformation at the plate? Prior to joining New York, he had an 84 wRC+ over his career. Through patience and practice, however, he has hit to a 103 wRC+ in pinstripes.
Frazier’s time as a starter will come, but he will probably have to wait out the rest of the year. At 35 years old, Brett Gardner is enjoying a productive season, but it should arguably be his final one in a full-time role. Mike Tauchman and Cameron Maybin have filled in nicely for an injury riddled team, but they may not be key pieces moving forward.
Maybin is the textbook definition of a journeyman, a 10-year veteran who has played for eight different teams. There is reason to believe he’s playing a little over his head, though, as his .382 wOBA is significantly higher than his .355 xwOBA. The same goes for Tauchman and his .328 wOBA and .283 xwOBA. The Yankees are enjoying the production for now. It makes sense to keep them both while they’re playing well. Next year, however, they shouldn’t get in the way of Frazier.
The Yankees should come forward at some point and provide the reassurance that Frazier needs to succeed at a high level. Expectations, media, and fans are tough enough. Not having the backing and support of the organization makes it meaningless for this relationship to go on any longer if he's not projected to be starting next year.
In just 53 games, we’ve seen what Frazier can provide to the lineup. While the Bombers seem committed to playing others—with acceptable reasons—Frazier should be the future. Hopefully, sooner rather than later fans will see him get the opportunity he deserves.